Sunday, April 12, 2015

Max: 15 Months Old

Max will be 15 months old this week! 

Max has been busy these last few months. It's been cold and incredibly snowy up here in Boston. In fact, we broke the record for snowiest winter on record, which might be cooler when it's history but at the moment is just…miserable. We discovered Max does not love snow days as much as we don't- he loves to get out of the house and see interesting people and things. Some of the places Max like to go include: to visit family and friends, walks around the neighborhood, the mall, swimming at the Y, inside playgrounds and to restaurants (though he is mostly done sitting at restaurants so that will mean less visits ha ha). 

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Max also took another big trip, where he turned 13 months. Our trip to Savannah was much easier than our trip to Florida had been only a month earlier. There were a combination of factors that contributed to this, mostly the fact that Max wasn't sick, one of our flights wasn't delayed (that's 1 out of the 4 flights Max has been on) and Max had a nice walk in closet to sleep in. 

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Max LOVES big kids. He plays with his BFF Teddy (photo above) and he loved visiting me at work a few weeks ago. The kids were all crowded around him and he thought it was the best thing ever. He even stole the basketball from a few of my kids who were playing. 

Some of the things we love about Max have remained the same for many months. He still continues to love music. When the music comes on, he still dances, now while standing up. Music also calms him down when he is upset. He also continues to love books. He has expanded his favorites a bit, but he still loves listening to the same book over and over again. The other day he got impatient with my Home Goods shopping, but when I gave him a book to look at, he was fine with cruising around for awhile longer. He continues to be obsessed with lights and wants nothing more than to spend hours turning on and off every single light in the house. 

But there is a lot new in Max land too. He talks a bit more now, says Mama, Dada, Nonna, Nana, dog, and bye-bye. He also waves to everyone, and uses sign language for "down" and "more" (though more is a bit more like "I want" but close enough). Max understands much of what we say now. If we say it's time to eat, he heads right to his high chair. "It's time to go upstairs!" = run right over to the gate and attempt to open it himself. He also shows signs that he is a toddler these days, throwing a mini tantrum if he doesn't get his way. Things that get him particularly angry: having to stop running around for 5 seconds to get changed or put on his jacket, not being allowed to open a door or gate that he wants to open, being taken away from something he wants to do. 

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He continues to be a pretty good eater most days. He loves yogurt, cheese, crackers, bread, waffles, peanut butter and almond butter, oatmeal, pears, peas, ground turkey, pasta with tomato sauce, rice, and cookies. We regularly give him what we are eating for dinner- last week he enjoyed a Thai curry dish that Eric made. But of course, he has his times (also regularly) where he wants nothing to do with the food on his tray and food ends up everywhere. He definitely does not like bananas, but other than that he mostly just randomly doesn't like things that he just liked the day before. He's just not in the mood I suppose! He seems to be texturally influenced and will often play with his food and determine that he doesn't like the feel of it before even trying it. Oh well!

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Last week, my mom taught him how to "give hugs" which has now replaced dancing to the music as my favorite thing Max can do. I think starting around 6 months, every month I declare to be my favorite age so far. So here's to my new favorite age :) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Savannah, Georgia

Last week I took my first trip to the "south" in my adult life. I originally thought it was my first ever, but then I remembered I did a 3 week camp-type thing in Virginia after my freshman year of high school. I know that Virginia being the south is a bit questionable, but this was not in a suburb of DC, it was "the south" of VA, and this was made further southern by my two best buds at camp being from Mississippi and Memphis. So, I suppose I've been to the south, but not in my adult life. Many southern cities are on my short list of must visit: Nashville, Austin, Charleston. Also on the list? Savannah, Georgia. The weather is warmer than here in February (though just barely on the week we had, yikes) and the flight is direct and cheap from Boston. Max was excited for his third and fourth flights :) 

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I used both Lisa and Stephany's blog posts about Savannah in my planning, so here is what we did and would recommend to others. We did bring Max along to all of the places below, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend them all for kids. Max did great, but whenever he needed a break we had 4 of us who could take him for walks or entertain him in some way. Also, everyone in Savannah was SO SO nice, he made many, many friends along the way. 

Read: Why not read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a true crime novel by John Berndt, before you head to Savannah? It's fun to see a bunch of the places where things took place. If you get really into it, you can stay at an Inn where parties happened in the book. Rumor has it guests have reported hearing parties in the middle of the night even now… dun dun dun. 

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Eat: Barracuda Bobs [casual restaurant down by the river], Olde Pink House [fancy restaurant with good quality food in an old historic house, really cool atmosphere and brief history lesson during your meal], Billy's Place at McDonough's [surprisingly fancy restaurant located above a pub, supposed to be the best crab cake in Savannah- I didn't try all of them, but it was definitely delicious], Crystal Beer Parlor [casual, fun and delicious restaurant great for kids and adults alike], Java Burrito [amazing Chioptle-type restaurant on Hilton Head for anyone who decides to go up there for a day trip]

We also ate at The Pirate House, which is located in the oldest building in Savannah. You can even do tours of the restaurant. It wasn't terrible, but I just think you can do better in Savannah and I'd probably only go back to do a tour but not to eat again. It's possible my opinion of this place was colored by the fact that Max was just not really feeling this restaurant. 

Drink: You can drink on the streets in Savannah, so the possibilities are limitless. Down by the river, we grabbed some local to go beers from the Bayou Cafe. If you don't mind paying a little more for your drinks, go to the Top Deck Bar and enjoy a rooftop view over the river. My favorite local beers were: Coastal Empire Tybee Island Blonde and the Southbound Scatter Sun Whit, both brewed in Savannah. 

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Sleep: We rented a condo using HomeAway. It was perfect for us- 3 bedrooms, 2 HUGE closets (one that Max slept in) and a great location about a mile walk from most attractions. Let me know if you want more info. If you are more of a hotel person, it seems there are endless possibilities. Just beware, many of the historic inns are haunted. He he :) 

See & Do: the Savannah Dan tour [awesome 2 hour walking tour, super entertaining guy who gives interesting overview of Savannah history], walk… walk everywhere, along the river, in the many many parks that seem to be on every corner, tour the Owens Thomas House, peak inside the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, visit Tybee Island (20 minute drive) for Fort Pulaski and Tybee Island Light (which you can climb to the top of), visit Hilton Head and go to the Island Winery. IMG 1655IMG 1629

 

Buy: I usually don't buy much on vacation, but I had to visit Nilsa's friend's store Number Four Eleven and get Max an adorable stuffed bunny.

 

Overall we had a great trip to Savannah and I'd definitely recommend it as a place for others to visit. I loved the southern hospitality, especially how kind and welcoming everyone was on to Max! There was a lot more we didn't even have time to do, so I think we will be back again. 

 

Have you been to the south, or do you live in the south? Favorite southern city? 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Max's First Birthday!

Max turned 1. We had a party! It was not Pinterest worthy. Actually, truth be told, I had a 102 degree fever during the party (hello flu) and Max cried when we gave him cake. 

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We kept the party small: just Max, us, our immediate families. I decided on a Little Blue Truck theme because that is Max's favorite book, and because he is still young enough that I can pick the theme and yes I will choose a book theme, obviously. I used Etsy for the shirt and the invitations. 

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(Ignore the giant yellow spot, that's just where I covered up the details ha ha). As you can tell, I'm fancy. 

 I used a local place for the cake. 

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I'm sure next year I'll go for a cheaper (but still delicious and pretty awesome) Market Basket photo cake, but for year 1 I decided to go big on the cake front. 

Otherwise, we kept things pretty simple: 2 balloons, 1 decoration (month by month photos of Max) and Chipotle dinner. 

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Max had a blast. He loved all the attention and walking from one family member to another. 

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Despite the fact that he LOVES all things music, he was quite shocked by the whole singing Happy Birthday aspect. 

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And as I mentioned he did not like the cake. Though, 1 week later at his friend's birthday, cake was the best thing ever. 

A few weeks later, we celebrated his birthday again with his best bud Teddy and yet again, he wanted nothing to do with cake (this time ice cream cake). Apparently he is a man who would prefer to celebrate other's birthdays?

And just like that, now I don't have a baby any more, but a toddler. So they say anyway :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Max: One Year

On January 17, 2015 Max turned 1 year old. He had a pretty awesome first year of life, if I can speak for him. That must be what dadadadadababababa means, right? 

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I can speak for us and say, we have had more fun than we ever imagined we would getting to know this little guy. It's been hard at times, but always worth it. 

It seems Max is learning new tricks almost daily now. He took his first real "steps" on January 5th, at 11.5 months. He spent that week walking back and forth between two people, and then started to walk between furniture (not surprisingly, his first walk to an inanimate object was walking to the couch to try to grab the remote, of course!) He is now walking for longer stretches and loving every second of it. Watching him walk is perhaps my favorite thing right now (or at least tied with watching him "dance" when music comes on). When he walks, he puts his arms out to balance himself, gets a HUGE smile on his face and plows towards his target. He is able to aim his walking a bit now, and correct if he starts to get off balance. He is still a bit unsteady though. This doesn't bother him, he LOVES to walk and is tremendously proud of himself whenever he makes it without falling. 

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Eric and I both have different games we play with Max that he enjoys. Two of Max & Mom's favorites right now are: I stack the stacking cups, Max knocks them over and the second is, Max hands me something (like his doggie blanket), I stick it on my head, Max laughs hysterically and climbs up on me to pull it off my head. It's the simple things, I tell you. 

Eric and Max's favorite game is named "baby crane." In this game, Eric holds Max his arms while standing up. Max throws something on the ground (again, his doggie blanket is useful for many things). Eric says, "BABY CRANE!" and then flips Max over and lowers him to the ground where he then picks up the dropped blanket while squealing with delight. As soon as he is back up, he drops it again and the game continues. Max also enjoys the game where he tries to leap off the bed and Eric catches him in mid air. The child lives a pretty wild life for a 1 year old. 

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Max has been sick a lot the past month, which has made him more cuddly than usual. We know he is really not feeling well when he lays his head on our chest and just sits still for a minute. But even when he wants to be held, he still reminds us he is a toddler now with his own mind. If he doesn't want food, he will throw it right on the floor. If he wants food, he will whine MAMAMAMAMAMAMA until I hurry up and get him the food! 

He understands language more and more every day. He knows who a lot of people are, including us, grandparents and aunts & uncles. He gives a smile of recognition for people he knows, which is the best thing ever. If we say, "doggie" (meaning his lovey dog blanket thing), "light" or "walk to [insert name]" he knows what we mean. He also knows the word "up" and will put up his arms when we say "up." One of my goals of the next month or so is to teach him some baby sign language so that he can tell me some things instead of whining. Also, he has been biting me when I'm holding him and he wants to get down so… yeah, that needs to stop. 

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Physically, he is really growing! He is up to 21 pounds (45th percentile) and 30 inches (50th percentile- up from 25th at his last appointment!). A solidly average guy… big progress from the 5th percentile he was a year ago. It makes sense that he is growing because he loves food, almost everything. He still loves oatmeal and pears, yogurt, salmon, turkey, basically all meats mixed with veggies and fruit. He still loves his purees, but he also loves to eat mom and dad's food. He loves the chili Eric makes, basically all Chinese food, bread (just like mom and dad), and most recently he tried my bagel with peanut butter (and survived!) and loved that too. He is hit or miss on whether he will tolerate hard boiled eggs and bananas (not together) and he absolutely does NOT like anything with vinegar including pickles and ketchup. That's probably my fault :) 

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I will be talking about his 1 year birthday party in a separate post since this one is getting a bit long :) 

Likes: being silly, trying to jump off the bed, climbing stairs (actually climbing anything), his favorite books (including Little Blue Truck, The I Love You Book, Where is the Green Sheep?, Goodnight Moon, the Carl books, Moo Baa La La La), practicing walking, watching videos of himself on our phones, watching other kids, opening and closing doors, throwing balls, clapping for himself, opening up all drawers and cabinets and taking everything out of them, all his toys, and of course his doggie. 

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Dislikes: not being feed fast enough, when he shuts a door that he wants to open, cold milk, basically anything not going his way (sigh)

Eating: (see above for food preferences) In a routine of eating 3 solid meals a day, snacks 1-2 times per day, milk 4 times per day- currently 1 is real milk and 3 others are still nursing until I can get him to consistently drink milk from a cup, we will get there when we get there because all I care about is I'm DONE PUMPING. WOO! 

Sleeping: Goes to bed by 8ish, ideally sleeps until 6:30 but with all the sickness lately that has not been happening. He is still taking 2 naps a day around 9 am and 1:30-2pm, but some days he fights one or the other. I think he is in the very beginning stages of dropping to 1 nap. It might be awhile before that really happens though, who knows. 

Talking: Dada, Mum, Daddy, Baby, Puh Puh, Dod (no idea what this means, maybe dog? maybe nothing!) maybe Beep, lots of whining… ha ha

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Thank you for reading all these updates for the last year. I did not keep up with my baby book (seriously, never wrote one single thing) so this is my one and only way to remember all these details. I will probably continue to do these but probably less often now that he is 1 :) 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Challenge Accepted [Read Harder Challenge- My Recommendations]

How I Met Your Mother reference, anyone? 

After first hearing about it on Lisa's blog (and now seeing it on several others), I've decided I am going to participate in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge this year. Basically, you read 24 books in 24 different categories. I figure it will be easy since many of the people I take book recommendations from will be doing it too :) Plus it might force me to read a few things that I wouldn't have before. I thought it would be fun to share some of the books I've already read that fit into the categories, in case you are looking for some ideas. Even if you aren't doing the challenge, who doesn't love a good book recommendation? 

I definitely don't have one for every category, but at the end of this year, I will! 

Book that takes place in Asia: Shanghai Girls, The Pearl that Broke It's Shell

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture: Rabbit Proof Fence

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A young adult novel: Under the Blood Red Sun, Eleanor and Park, Divergent, Monster, Wonder (I could go on…)

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An audiobook: Yes Please (I actually read this but I think the audio book is the way to go for this one)

A collection of poetry: Brown Girl Dreaming (also could be an award winning book of the last decade)

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A book that was originally published in another language: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (also it's young adult!)

Of course, you can use ALL of these books as a book someone has recommended to you. 

If you are participating in the challenge (or even if you are not), what are some books you either recommend or plan to read? Give me some ideas :) 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

10 Favorite Books of 2014

I'm a little behind on end of 2014 posts. I wrote this one while in Florida but for some reason it did not want to post from my iPad so I had to redo it, with far less explanations. I suppose that since I choose my job based on my love for teaching kids to read, it seems obvious that I love reading. I was worried that my transition into being a mom would mean that I wouldn't have as much time to read. I set my goal for 2014 low (20 books originally) and blew it out of the water… I think I read my 20th book in early April. In 2014 reading saved me from the monotony of nursing a new born and the challenge of middle of the night wakings. It was the one and only hobby I faithfully maintained this year. It has been such a great joy to get to read to Max and have him choose his own favorite books already. It always continues to be a joy to share great books with my students and teach them how to read. 

Here are some of my favorite reads from the year, in no particular order (though I do think #1 was my top favorite). Please share your favorite reads in 2014 in the comments :) 

#1

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(Just read it. So good.)

#2

2014books 4

#3

2014books 1

#4

2014books 2

#5

2014books 3

#6

2014books 10

#7

2014books 9

#8

2014books 8

#9-

2014books 11

#10-

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Top 10 in 2014

I'm a little late, but I didn't want to skip a Top Moments of 2014 post. I'm normally not without words, but when I try to describe the past year, I can't figure out how to do it. Can I just say it had some wonderful moments and some really hard moments? Here are some of my favorites: 

*As always, if the photo looks professional, you can thank Caroline. 

Meeting Max. You knew that was coming right? 

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Introducing Max to the many, many important people in his life. He has many family members and friends that love him :) We got so many visits, and we met up with so many people. It was fun!

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Celebrating my 30th Birthday on a boat in Boston Harbor. We also celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary on a boat in Boston Harbor, which was also a top moment. Let's just say, drinking beer on boats in Boston Harbor? 

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Mini Speed Boats also in Boston Harbor. There is a boat theme in my favorite things from this year. 

 

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Zac Brown Concert at Fenway Park

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Nightly Walks with Eric and Max. Or daily, or multiple times a day… ha ha. I also loved nightly story time. There is beauty in the routine. 

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Introducing Max to the many things and places we love. From our many Cape Cod adventures, to swimming lessons, to travel, to…everything really. 

 

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Jet skiing with dolphins in Florida. There was a LOT challenging about this trip… but I think it was probably all worth it for this 2 hour period. 

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The Kindergarten Kiddos. My thoughts on my job in 2014 were complicated. I guess you could say I had a love/hate relationship with it. It frustrated me. It saved my sanity. But my love for the kiddos did not change (though they also sometimes frustrate me, ha). I loved how invested they became in Max- they would interrupt my lessons to ask how he was doing. They drew him pictures and wrote him notes. Plus, they just continued to be 5 and 6. They told funny stories, they asked irrelevant questions. One struggled with his letters at the beginning of the year and then was a good sport when I forced him to do daily letter activities (several per day) until he learned all of them (in 1 month, amazing!) Another worked on writing his number 5 during play time. One said to me today, "I waited ALL vacation to give you this picture I made you. I missed school SO MUCH!" Love. 

Reading. I owe you guys a post of my favorite books from 2014. I read a lot more than I expected to this year and reading seriously kept me sane as I nursed for 1 billion hours and tried to fall back to sleep after middle of the night wakings. I might have gone a little crazy without my books! 

2014 was a good year, but I'm looking forward to an even better 2015! :)